Microsoft's 'carbon aware' updates feature begins rolling out on Xbox consoles

The February update also allows you to use the Google Home app as a touch remote for your system.

Aaron Souppouris/Engadget

Microsoft has begun rolling out a new update for Xbox consoles. Among the more notable features the February release adds is the “carbon aware” functionality the company began testing last month. When your Xbox has access to the internet, you can set it to schedule game, app and operating system updates based on local carbon intensity data. According to Microsoft, doing so may lead to your console producing fewer carbon emissions because it’s programmed to download files when more renewable energy is likely available. It may also save you money on your electricity bill.

Additionally, all Xbox users now have access to the company’s new “Shutdown (energy saving)” option. If you don’t mind longer startup times and missing out on the Xbox’s remote wake functionality, Microsoft says the feature can cut your console’s power consumption by up to 20 times compared to if you were to leave it in sleep mode. “For every two consoles that switch to Shutdown (energy saving) for one year, we will save the equivalent amount of carbon removed by one tree planted and grown for a decade,” says Microsoft.

Separately, the February update adds a feature that allows you to prevent games from changing the background of your Xbox’s home screen. You can now set a solid color of your choice. You can do so by navigating to the Personalization menu within the Settings app. Microsoft has also partnered with Google to allow Xbox owners to use the company’s Home app as a touch remote for their console. “Now, when you add your Xbox console to your Google Home app, you’ll be able to easily turn your console on and off, navigate on-screen, control media playback and more,” Microsoft notes. Once you have access to the February update, open the Google Home app on your phone and pull down on the interface to refresh the list of available devices. Then tap on your Xbox to get started.